Note: These are the readings for “Year C” in the Lectionary for Mass. On the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent, parishes may use the “Year A” readings at Masses that includes members of the RCIA process.
The Gospel reveals that growth and knowledge often take time to develop. This process of maturity reminds us that our own spiritual life requires a steady discipline of commitment over the entire course of our lives.
For the last few weeks our lives have been disrupted – in great and small ways – by COVID-19. Our “normal” routines and expectations have been cast aside as we have made changes in response to this health threat.
And while this change is substantial, it is good to remember that we are constantly making adjustments to our lives. Nothing stays the same, and in the changes we face we discover new opportunities to grow.
Change is a part of life. Through our experiences and encounters we develop and discover new perspectives and resources within our lives. Change happens when we open our hearts to those around us and put into action our new insights.
In the Gospel Jesus states that to love him means to keep his commandments. There are two: 1. Love God 2. Love one another.
It is important to note that these commands are not just about being busy. To love means to be in relationship with others; love invites us to grow in our awareness and understanding for one another. This knowledge leads to greater respect and value for all life.
In the Gospel love is a verb. It must be acted upon, practiced, and carried out in all parts of life. To love means to work at a relationship – and thus be open to spend the time and effort necessary.
Yet when we open our hearts to love we are changed. As we experience love, as we work at it, we discover that our hearts get stretched. We become challenged to grow, to make room so that we can love more deeply, more completely.
Jesus promises that we will have help. As we open our lives to the power of love, the Spirit will come to help us and guide us. Transformed by love, we trust that God will continue to direct us, until the cycle of love and change brings us one day to the Kingdom of Heaven.
As we bring the year 2019 to a close, perhaps it makes sense to take a brief walk back through the last twelve months and reflect on how our lives have changed. Where did we experience moments of growth? Where did we experience God’s grace? May we look back and count our blessings as we prepare for a New Year.
In our best moments we know that we are works in progress – people growing through the ups and downs of life – and that we have to follow directions because some assembly is required. May we trust in the Lord to lead us through this life as we follow with all our heart.
About this time of year students experience transition. The academic year is coming to a close, classes are wrapping up, papers are written and exams taken. It is a time where one can clearly see change: teachers and classmates conclude their studies and look to new opportunities and experiences in the summer.
For some it might be work; others might attend summer school; still others might experience a move to a new location. Change takes many forms, but through it all some key points emerge:
Opportunity to apply learning to life
The Feast of the Ascension is one such moment of profound change in the early Church. Rejoicing with one another over the Resurrection, the apostles were flying high – the Lord is risen! In this moment of enthusiasm and hope, the Lord (truly in the role of Teacher) shares with them a new lesson – it’s time to change and grow.
Now they are the ones who must teach; they are the ones chosen to proclaim the Good News; through their efforts the Holy Spirit will empower them to heal and drive out demons. Simply put, the Ascension of Jesus clears the way for the disciples to apply the Lord’s teaching in their own lives as they continue Christ’s mission in the world.
We are part of that mission. We received our faith from those who came before us, and today we have an opportunity to proclaim the Good News to those in our lives. Here are some thoughts:
Family – who often see us in unguarded moments
Friends – sustained and strengthened by our efforts
Coworkers – witness our character and conviction
Classmates – supported and encouraged in learning
Neighbors – perceive our actions and effort
Strangers – 1st impressions that point to Christ
Enemies – encounter justice and mercy with forgiveness
The Good News takes many forms, and in our moments of transition we are given new opportunities to act. May the Ascension of our Lord inspire us to look for change in our own lives and seek ways where we can live joyful lives as disciples of Jesus Christ!